Prevention - How to Prevent a Bed Bug Infestation
Furniture and Room Guidelines
Bed bugs thrive under certain conditions which are enhanced by the availability of hiding spots close to their human hosts. Bed bugs have a strong preference for paper and wood, over metal and plastic. Porous surfaces provide more humidity and egg-laying locations. Furniture choices can greatly contribute to the control of bed bugs.
Guidelines for furniture include:
- Replace wood frame beds with metal frame beds to discourage bed bug hiding and egg-laying on beds.
- Eliminate head boards completely. Bed bugs hide and thrive in head boards.
- Replace all plush furniture with metal and plastic, or items easily cleaned with soap and water.
- Adding smaller cushions that can be placed in a dryer is one way to make residents more comfortable. Cushions should be dried on a hot setting if bed bugs are an issue.
- Use only white or light colored sheets.
- If using wooden bunk beds choose models that are painted white. Paint existing wood bunk beds white. Fill gaps in the frames with silicone caulk. This will allow for much better inspection and reduce need for treatment.
- Vinyl-covered or seamless mattresses are recommended for adult beds.
- If vinyl mattresses have holes, consider repairing them with tape or discarding them.
- Do not discard regular (non-vinyl) mattresses, only to replace them with other regular mattresses. Bed bugs will re-infest the new bedding quickly. Use mattress encasements.
- If a box spring is being used, be sure to encase it too. The box spring is more likely to harbor bed bugs than the mattress.
- Wooden dressers, wardrobes, tables and other furniture can be painted white for easy inspection. Any crevices where a credit card will fit should first be sealed with silicone caulk to eliminate hiding spots.
- Discard any wicker furniture. Wicker provides infinite harborage to bed bugs and is impossible to treat effectively.
Mattress encasements are zippered enclosures that cover the entire mattress, as if it were bagged. Encasements should always be used for non-vinyl mattresses and box springs in bed bug prevention and management. Special bed bug-proof encasements are made of high quality cloth material, so they do not tear easily, and they have no folds around the zipper for bed bugs to find shelter. Cheaper vinyl encasements are available but need to be installed carefully to avoid tears in the vinyl. If a small hole appears, duct tape can be used to repair it. Holes MUST be repaired to prevent bed bugs from either gaining protection on the inside of the cover, or to prevent bed bugs from escaping from the infested bedding. Encasing both mattress and box spring eliminates the need to discard bedding by trapping bed bugs inside and providing a smooth simple outer surface that can be inspected, vacuumed and cleaned easily. It is highly recommended that mattresses and box springs be encased, to preserve the sleeping area and to make bed bug inspections quick and easy.
Other room guidelines:
- Moldings and joints around the room perimeter (floor, doors, cabinets, and windows) should be caulked with silicone sealant to eliminate hiding spots for both bed bugs and cockroaches.
- Openings around pipes or other structures that come through walls, floors and ceilings must be sealed. This will help with bed bugs, mice and cockroaches.
- People should keep sleeping in the room to avoid spreading bed bugs to other rooms or residences, when possible.
- Residents should not store belongings under the bed when dealing with a bed bug infestation. This provides plenty of hiding spots that are difficult to clean.
Issues between rooms:
Often, bed bugs infesting a room or unit will make their way to an adjacent room or unit through electrical, heat and phone line conduits. It is important to identify cases where this happens and approach the spread from both sides of the wall.
Evidence that may suggest room to room movement of bed bugs includes:
- Bed bugs in ceiling light fixtures
- Bed bugs hiding in and coming out of electrical and switch plates on walls and bed bug droppings found on the inside of the switch plates, or near ducts
- Bed bugs frequently found in unusual locations, such as the kitchen or bathroom.
- In such a case, it may be that the kitchen or bathroom is located adjacent to an infested bedroom or heavily infested unit, and bed bugs are traveling along water pipes.
Donations of clothing and household items:Donations of clothing, shoes, coats, toys and other personal belongings are vital to many programs that help the disadvantaged. But sometimes when people discover bed bugs in their homes, they discard many personal belongings, and it is unclear how much of these discarded personal belongings make it to the donation stream. It is therefore important to be very careful about donated items to avoid the introduction or spread of bed bugs in your facility or residence.
Suggested precautions for donations include:
- Wash and especially DRY on HOT all clothing, shoes, coats, linens, blankets, and plush toys before distribution.
- Sort donations on a clean linoleum floor. Prevent the escape of bed bugs into your facility by sorting inside a perimeter of carpet (double-sided) tape placed around the working space. This creates a sticky barrier that bed bugs cannot cross.
- Shake out clothing; inspect books and toys carefully
- Ban all cardboard boxes for donations from your facility. Instead use clear plastic bags.
- Keep sorted and laundered items away from items that have not been checked or treated.